Heart Essex (regional)
|City of license||Chelmsford|
|Broadcast area||Essex and East Hertfordshire|
|Branding||This is Heart|
|Slogan||More Music Variety|
96.3, 97.5, 102.6 MHz
|Audience share||12.9% (December 2012, )|
Heart Essex is a local radio station owned and operated by Global Radio as part of the Heart network. It broadcasts to Essex and East Hertfordshire from studios in Chelmsford. The station launched on Monday 26 July 2010 as a result of a merger between Heart Essex (Chelmsford & Southend) (formerly Essex FM), Heart Colchester (formerly SGR Colchester) and Ten 17.
The regional station originally broadcast as three separate stations - Essex Radio began broadcasting to the Southend-on-Sea area in September 1981 and to Chelmsford three months later. Harlow's Ten 17 launched in May 1993 as a part-time opt out from Essex FM and later expanded to become a fully separate service. Meanwhile, SGR Colchester began broadcasting as an offshoot of Ipswich's SGR FM in October 1993.
Essex FM and Ten 17 originally came under the ownership of the Essex Radio Group while SGR Colchester was owned by East Anglian Radio, which was brought up in 1996 by GWR Group - within four years, the two other ILR stations in Essex came under GWR ownership.
SGR Colchester was among the first stations to be rebranded under the Heart moniker in January 2009 and followed six months later by Essex FM. As a Hit Music Network station, Ten 17 retained its local identity - but as with the Heart stations in Chelmsford and Colchester, local output had been restricted to breakfast and weekday drivetime shows.
On 21 June 2010, Global Radio announced plans to merge all three stations as part of plans to restructuring plans for Heart. The new station, Heart Essex, began broadcasting from Chelmsford on Monday 26 July 2010, leading to the closure of studios in Colchester and Harlow. 96.1 & 101.7 MHz are still classified as separate stations.
Local programming is produced and broadcast from Heart's Chelmsford studios from 6-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays, 1-5pm on Saturdays and 12pm-4pm on Sundays. All networked programming originates from Global Radio's London headquarters, including the syndicated Vodafone Big Top 40 on Sunday afternoons.
The station's local presenters include Martin Day and Su Harrison (Heart Breakfast) and Matt Mackay (weekday drivetime).
Heart Essex broadcasts hourly local news bulletins from 6am-7pm on weekdays and 6am-12pm at weekends. National news updates air hourly from Global's London headquarters at all other times.